What have I done now?

I’ve been having terrible depression and anxiety over the past few days and I think I know why. I’ve become immersed in the world of streaming and while I don’t think it’s a mistake bc I enjoy it, I feel like I’m not safe enough either mentally or socially (support-wise). I like streaming because I get to chat with people while doing things I like. I don’t care much about followers or popularity because I think at least at the moment, building a channel is a nice project to distract me from things, I suppose. But what happens when your distraction needs a distraction?

The streaming communities I’m in right now are… complicated. I have made two friends who stream. Let’s call them Marco and Polo. Marco encouraged me to stream, and seemed really excited about it. I wanted to do it too. IRL friends have encouraged me to show my art too, so it was not just this one person, and I did not at all feel pressured to do it. Marco’s excitement and enthusiasm really inspired me, because it’s really nice to have that sort of energy when you’re used to a lot of negativity, put-downs, and not-feeling-good-enough or worthy enough.

So now I’m streaming, and I also hang out in Marco’s streams from time to time. I met Polo through Marco’s chat, and started chatting in his stream too. I meet this guy, let’s call him Jeff. He started off really nice, but started to say things that made me and Marco uncomfortable. Long story short, Jeff got banned in my and Marco’s respective channel chats. And I feel… kinda bad. I feel like Jeff doesn’t mean to be the way he is. He can make respectful conversation, but at the same time his jokes can be borderline sexist. I think it has to do with his background, and not gonna lie, his age too. I feel like maybe I should’ve talked to him about it first. Now I think it’s too late. Jeff pops up in other streams I frequent now, and it’s awkward. This has made me feel awful. I feel terrible because he is extremely likely to be in Polo’s streams, which I enjoy watching and chatting in. Marco told Polo about this situation and I think Polo won’t do anything about it, which is fair enough because Jeff is also in streams Polo frequents in. I feel terrible about it. It’s such a strange situation. I’m still so new to streaming and I feel like one wrong move and all my hard work will be gone. I know Marco will be supportive of me regardless and I am thankful of that, but I also value Polo but sometimes I think I need to detach myself from their side of streaming if Jeff is there. Which sucks. I don’t know what to do at this point.

These feelings have eventually evolved into awful depression and waking up with anxiety. I feel like I’ve deeply immersed myself in this online world because it gave me “highs”. The positive reinforcement, the support, the “friendships”. I’m not even sure if it’s real anymore. I just learned what parasocial relationships are through Marco earlier this year, and I’m so careful not to overstep any boundaries with ANYONE. But I can’t distinguish what’s being friendly and what’s being too in-your-face. I remain polite and respectful of course, but I fear that one day I might say something that might be taken the wrong way and ruin my relationships with these people. I value my… I guess friendships… with Marco and to an extent Polo (because I’m not really sure if he genuinely does see me as a friend. This is what I mean. There is such a blurry line when interacting with a streamer and becoming their friend). I guess I am comfortable with Marco because he has been kind and supportive. It just feels like my brain is overthinking things, but unlike any other situation I am in, it’s hard to find a truth/reasonable thought and cling on to that for sanity.

I am scared I will lose these friendships, real or not. I don’t want to bring this up with anyone I’ve met on the streaming platform. I am scared these friendships are just fictional, because maybe these people are just being nice because they’re being broadcasted to viewers. I am scared that I will be left in the dust when they are successful.

But it’s difficult. I enjoy when people come in and chat. The other day, I had new followers and they were interacting with each other and making jokes. They were lovely. It’s also so good to have Marco and Polo hop in and chat. It makes me feel liked. I think I enjoy streaming, but it’s the social-friendship aspect of it that’s tripping me up. It also hurts knowing that not a lot of my real life friends come to my stream.

I just think to myself, what have I done? Was this an entirely right decision? I feel like if I let go of these other things, streaming would 100% be fun. Or maybe just my mind isn’t thinking right. I don’t know. I’d like to grow a community the same way Marco has done, he can be inspiring in many ways. I’ve also just been physically exhausted because I’m recovering from COVID and I think the meds are still tiring me out. I just feel like I’m on 90% CPU usage right now.

Thank you always for reading and being here for me <3

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Hi there,

This is such a powerful post, and so wellwritten. You’ve captured the fragility of online relationships so well, and the sort of fairy-dust effect it can have - we feel great and seen and appreciated, but we never know if/when the dust will end and the illusion will stop.

It’s a tricky thing especially with friends from chat to know if/when you’ve transitioned from chat-buddies to actual friends, and if it’s with the streamer, what is friendship and what is pleasant exchanges because they’re “online”.

For me, it helps to have boundaries of what info I share with others in chat, what about myself I tell them. Sort of like a dice which face will they see. Especially as you stream as well, it’s always good to have some info that remains just yours, and remains offline (in my opinion at least! I don’t stream, but I imagine that is how it is lol).

So they can be the friendly presence you can expect in your chat, but maybe there isnt that much hanging out outside of chat like emails, discords, calls, etc. So this is where the friendship exists, and that’s also something to be grateful for.

There are different kinds of friendship, is how I’d say it in a nutshell. Some are deep and maybe irl and longterm (but they dont join your streams), or they are new, fun, easy, but a bit more surface, and limited in scope to just chat, stream, discord, etc.

None is wrong. Just have to manage your expectations, have boundaries, and communicate those as needed.

Also, congrats on streaming and sharing your art! Glad it brings you joy :slight_smile:

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I totally agree with everything @Sita said here. They’re very right about the expectations of online relationships. To be fair, I probably push boundaries at times and consider some of the streamers I follow friends. I try to be very careful with it, and normally let them say I’m a friend first, especially as we talk in discord outside of their streams.

As for the issue with Jeff. I totally understand how you feel. If you felt uncomfortable, you were totally right to block him. You don’t owe him an explanation for how you feel. Now I can’t say much as to what he has said or done, but you get to manage your online space to be what you want it to be. And I, for one, would hope it would exclude sexist jokes and rude remarks. Age really shouldn’t have anything to do with those types of things (in my opinion) because you’re never too old to learn.

You did the right thing by creating that boundry, so don’t feel guilty about it. I’m proud of you for talking to Polo about it, because that is important to be transparent with them.

Hopefully this helps you some >.<

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90%CPU :laughing:

I think I’m short on RAM (random access memory). At times my hard drive feels fragmented too. Oh well…

Online friendships are indeed different, but in some ways better. Online, people can choose their identity, and feel like impostors, while for the first time, they’re being authentic. That’s because within their own family and culture, much of what they feel is suppressed. Online relationships offer the protection of anonymity and distance, yet the emotional connection can be totally real, or at times fake on one side or the other.

A person can figure out who they are as they interact with others, and if problems develop, they can take a break from the interactions, or find a new group to hang with.

Some people hide behind their online identity, drop their inhibitions and become creepy.

Emotions related to online activities can become really raw, and occupy the mind constantly. If you feel that happening, take a step back. You can let people know you’ll be offline for a bit. True friends will understand.

My longest friendship that started online is 27 years. I have several that’ve been around for 20+ years. BUT, considering the thousands of interactions and supposed friendships I’ve had, those that have lasted are just a tiny percentage.

Regarding Jeff, he has to learn somehow that his behavior isn’t appreciated. It’s not even a matter of his intentions, in other words, even if he means well or at least no harm, if he’s being offensive, his behavior should be discouraged, and the best way to do that is to ensure that he knows you won’t put up with it.

Just like IRL, feelings get hurt. Sometimes there’s a sense of emotional addiction. There are great opportunities to be acknowledged, gain confidence, and even become resistant to the mood swings or fickleness of others.

It also involves vulnerability. Even though a person is anonymous, they can express very real feelings, which can be validated, or stepped on.

Ultimately, through all the upsets, mistakes and successes, the outcome can be emotional maturity and strength. Based on your current writing, it’s evident that this is what’s evolving within you.

Remind yourself that you’re safe. When someone is offensive or disappointing online, ask yourself, “is this person qualified to judge me?”

Being online, there’s always a bit of bad with the good. Odds are that you’re making the online experience better for others.

Thanks for sharing your feelings. You are quite insightful, and I think you’ll be okay.

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I think it’s amazing that you are putting yourself and your art out there! It’s such a hard thing to do, especially when you’re live streaming it. I’m so happy you have found something that is overall a positive experience!

It’s definitely a tricky thing to compartmentalize, IRL friends versus streaming/online friends. It’s totally a valid and possible thing to make friends in the streaming community that are true, long lasting, meaningful friendships! But I also think it’s important to guard yourself and set boundaries a little bit. Streaming is an almost too easy way to open yourself up to the world, literally anyone who chooses to come by and watch for a bit. I think it’s healthy practice to make sure you are still protecting yourself from potentially negative interactions or relationships. Like with Jeff, never feel bad or guilty about setting a boundary if you feel uncomfortable! Don’t ever feel bad for protecting yourself or setting a boundary, you deserve to feel safe in your own space!

It does sound like here you are building a solid community and support system here though. I think streaming and online friends can be just like IRL friends, some come and some go, some stay for the long haul. I totally agree with Sita, there are many types, ways, shapes of friendships. Just enjoy them as they come :slight_smile:

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Hi @Sita , thanks for the reply! You’re so right about setting boundaries and your dice metaphor. I suppose it’s hard for me to differentiate IRL relationships with the friends I’m making over stream because in the end, I guess I naturally see them as just people I’m chatting with and not an “audience”. I’m trying to tell myself that unless I’ve spent a decent portion of time with my online friends in real life, then I should really learn how to keep healthy boundaries. It’s tough. I do love making these connections and laughing with my chat, especially “Marco” and “Polo” who are supportive of my stream. It’s so so tricky!

I will try to remind myself to “save” some of myself for me… if that makes sense. I think I’ve done the same with my ex, and that’s why the breakup didn’t hurt more. I don’t know if it’s a survival instinct. But it is a good idea. I think it’s harder over streaming because I am putting myself out there, and I am the centre of the stream. I need to remind myself that I can control what parts of me I can put out there… But again, it’s hard because I naturally am curious about people and love being conversational lol

I also like how you stated that they are the friendly presence in my chat but not outside. I think that I really have to be careful of how I let these relationships seep into my everyday life because at the end of the day I do have control of how much I take in my life and how much I give… You have absolutely put it into words and perspective for me and I thank you for that!


@sakurasangel I am totally the same! “Marco” and “Polo” I consider friends because they have stated it before (although Marco more explicitly and that’s why I’m closer to them than Polo, but that’s okay!) I talk to both of them on discord too but I think I should give Polo some space considering the boundaries aren’t too clear. I think I’m overstepping it a bit with them, even if they’re polite about it. My online space has no room for sexism and things like that, and I have clarified that in my rules. I think I’m concerned about bumping into Jeff in other streams. I could talk to Polo about it but I feel like I’m bothering them… maybe it’s because the way they chat. They’re lovely on stream, but of course maybe they can manage their on-stream / off-stream personality more. I just internalize it a lot. I’m not sure. But I feel less bad about blocking Jeff.


@Wings I really appreciate your words. It really helps straighten out my thoughts, as I feel like I’ve been so buried in the online world for so long that I’m losing touch of who I am. I can only hope that the people I have befriended are as genuine as they appear to be. Sometimes I doubt that, and that’s why I’m partly terrified. I want to put myself out there but strengthen my boundaries.

I felt bad about the whole Jeff situation because I hadn’t really given him a warning… Marco and I were discussing how he was uncomfortable with Jeff in his chat, and decided to ban him. Knowing that Jeff will be in my chat, I banned him too. I think I’m mostly over the upset feelings because I understand that both of us will move on from this. I suppose I understand that being a streamer will come with situations like this. Shit will go down. I’ll sometimes look like the bad guy despite having genuine, reasonable decisions. I think I just don’t want to deal with it. I think I don’t want to deal with confrontation. Especially since I hang around such positive areas. I don’t want to be the one who starts a rift between streamers/streams.

I will write down what you said. I really enjoy that quote- “Is this person qualified to judge me?” I think I will need that in the long run, not just in streaming. I hope that my corner of the internet is a good space for those who stop by. I hope that I will have the strength and emotional maturity to deal with negative things that come with streaming. I think I’m fine with instances like Jeff. I fear that those who have grown close to will turn away from me. I don’t know why I feel this way. I know relationships end and new ones begin. I just wish I didn’t constantly have it at the back of my mind so I can just enjoy streaming.

Thank you for your reply!


@hellosusieqzz Thank you! It’s very nerve wracking and I kinda just try and put out an exaggerated version of myself out there. It’s kind of like performing sometimes! I still get nervous before streams but I find that I get comfortable a few minutes in.

Your words are very comforting! It’s glad to be reassured that it is possible to make friends through streaming. I just need to not push myself off the deep end right away! I think I might be too excited, and I think I have so much to learn. It feels like I need to have everything sorted now though, you know? I have to remind myself that I am a new streamer, and things wouldn’t be as better-structured than other larger streamers with their rules and mods… I am enjoying myself, though, and I hope to have more positive experiences with streaming. Thank you for your reply!

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